Business

Pabst beer sold to Russian beverage company

A Russian brewer is to buy the maker of the American beer Pabst Blue Ribbon, beloved by broke college students and hipster urbanites.

Russian firm's chair to become CEO of venerable American brewer

The maker of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Colt 45 and Old Milwaukee beer is to be sold to a Russian beverage company. (CBC)

A Russian brewer is to buy the maker of the American beer Pabst Blue Ribbon, beloved by broke college students and hipster urbanites.

Oasis Beverage Company is buying Pabst for an undisclosed sum and its chairman Eugene Kashper is taking over as CEO.

Oasis is one of the biggest beverage companies in Russia and brewer of such beers as Golden Tankard and the Soviet-era Zhiguli, 

It has teamed up with TSG Consumer Partners, a private equity firm known for its work with consumer products companies, which will take a minority stake in Pabst.

In addition to its namesake beer, Pabst Brewing Co. makes Colt 45, Old Milwaukee and Schlitz. Pabst Brewing traces its roots back to 1844 in Milwaukee, where its was started by German-American Frederick Pabst.

Pabst was acquired in 2010 by C. Dean Metropoulos & Co., which is known for investing in food brands, including Twinkie maker Hostess. Metropoulos has in recent years enlisted comedian Will Ferrell to market the company's beers, which have built a following among young drinkers in part because of their low price.

In a statement, Kashper called Pabst Blue Ribbon the "quintessential American brand — it represents individualism, egalitarianism and freedom of expression — all the things that make this country great."

He said the company will keep its headquarters in Los Angeles.

Pabst accounts for less than three per cent of the U.S. beer market, said Eric Shepard, executive editor of Beer Marketer's Insights, an industry tracker. He also noted that many of the most popular beers in the U.S. are already owned by foreign companies. Anheuser-Busch InBev, which makes Budweiser and Bud Light, is based in Belgium.

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